Assessing Localized Skin-to-Fat Water in Arms of Women with Breast Cancer Via Tissue Dielectric Constant Measurements in Pre- and Post-surgery Patients
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Skin-to-fat tissue dielectric constant (TDC) values at 300 MHz largely depend on tissue water and provide a rapid way to assess skin water by touching skin with a probe for approximately 10 s. This method has been used to investigate lymphedema features accompanying breast cancer (BC), but relationships between TDC and nodes removed or symptoms is unclear. Our goals were: (1) to compare TDC values in BC patients prior to surgery (group A) and in patients who had BC-related surgery (group B) to determine if TDC of group B were related to nodes removed and reported symptoms and (2) to develop tentative lymphedema-detection thresholds.
Arm volumes and TDC values of at-risk and contralateral forearms and biceps were determined in 103 women awaiting surgery for BC and 104 women who had BC-related surgery 26.3 ± 17.5 months prior to evaluation. Inter-arm ratios (at-risk/contralateral) were determined and patients answered questions about lymphedema-related symptoms.
Inter-arm TDC ratios for group A forearm and biceps were respectively 1.003 ± 0.096 and 1.012 ± 0.143. Group B forearm ratios were significantly greater, and among group B patients who reported at least one symptom there was a significant correlation between TDC ratios and symptom burden and nodes removed.
Inter-arm TDC ratios are significantly related to symptoms and nodes removed. Ratios increase with increasing symptom score and might be used to detect pre-clinical unilateral lymphedema using TDC ratio thresholds of 1.30 for forearm and 1.45 for biceps. Threshold confirmation awaits targeted prospective studies but can serve as guideposts to provide quantitative and easily done tracking assessments during follow-up visits.
KeywordsSymptom Score Lymphedema Intraclass Correlation Coefficient Tissue Water Manual Lymphatic Drainage
Conflict of interest
No author has any commercial interest in the subject of this study
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